Joe Girardi attends his father's funeral

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Joe Girardi attends his father's funeral

From Comcast SportsNetPEORIA, Ill. (AP) -- Jerry Girardi was memorialized Monday as a dedicated laborer who built the ranch-style Illinois home where he raised five highly successful children -- two doctors, a math professor, an accountant and New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi.The Yankees manager, who attended the funeral service during an off day in the American League Championship Series, sat quietly alongside his family. None of the Girardis spoke, and they left the church quickly to attend the burial in Tampico, the tiny north-central Illinois town known as the birthplace of Ronald Reagan.Father Larry Zurek told the roughly 100 mourners at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in downtown Peoria that Jerry Girardi's contribution went far beyond his occupations as a bricklayer, restaurant owner and salesman. Foremost, he cherished family, Zurek said."Jerry built walls, but he built so much more," the priest said.Jerry Girardi died Oct. 6 at a residential treatment center in nearby Metamora, Ill., at age 81. He had suffered from Alzheimer's for years.The funeral came the day after Joe Girardi was ejected for arguing a controversial call during a loss to the Detroit Tigers that left the Yankees down 2-0 in the series. But, a lot like the images baseball fans are accustomed to seeing from the Yankee dugout, Girardi showed little emotion Monday. A few times, he dabbed at tears with a handkerchief.Joe Girardi, whose mother, Angela, died in 1984, managed his team through much of last week without telling players or the public that his father had died. He told The Associated Press last week that he found out while riding a team bus."The one thing that both of them, besides many other things that they taught me, was always to finish the job at hand," Girardi said. "So my thought process was my dad would want me to do everything that we could do to go win a World Series. He had been a part of them with me as a player. 2009 -- I don't think he understood what we did at that time. He was at a stage in Alzheimer's that he wasn't talking, so I don't think he understood."In a statement, the family thanked the community and others for their support."Our father would have been touched by all the kindness shown to our family as we mourn his passing. As saddened as we are with his loss, we take solace in knowing that he lives on through the principles he passed down to us and in the many wonderful memories we have of him."Lee Hall grew up with Joe Girardi and his brother John, and was co-captain of the team one year with Joe.Hall, now a local TV sportscaster, said after the service that Jerry Girardi was typical of the hard-working, blue-collar Peoria-area people that both Hall and the Girardi children were raised by. Thousands of people in the area work at Caterpillar Inc., the heavy machinery manufacturer based nearby.Hall played high school baseball with Girardi and his brother John, he said, was a team co-captain with Joe Girardi one season."I think it was the kids' parents -- Mr. and Mrs. Girardi did an incredible job with them, you know?" Hall said. "They were kind of like my parents: working class parents who wanted better for their kids."Joe Girardi has talked frequently about his father taking him to Cubs games, and about how Jerry Girardi showed off his son's World Series ring -- won as the Yankees catcher in 1996 -- around town after his son gave it to him.The manager frequently spoke about his father's long struggle with Alzheimer's, progressing from occasional forgetfulness and disorientation as far back as the mid-1990s to the point where he was never sure his father knew or understood him when he called or visited.On Monday, as the service ended, Jerry Giardi's casket was draped with an American flag, a reminder that he was also an Air Force veteran who served during the Korean war.Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis said outside the church that he played high school football with John Girardi, and recalled Jerry Girardi frequently standing on the sidelines at practices to watch his son."Jerry and his wife brought the kids up right," Ardis said.

NCAA TOURNAMENT: Gonzaga beats Xavier 83-59 to reach first Final Four

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NCAA TOURNAMENT: Gonzaga beats Xavier 83-59 to reach first Final Four

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Nigel Williams-Goss scored 23 points while orchestrating Gonzaga's efficient offense, and the Zags finally shook their overrated tag by routing Xavier 83-59 on Saturday to reach the Final Four for the first time.

Gonzaga (36-1) has been dogged by criticism through the years despite winning consistently, in part for playing in a weak conference but also for never making the Final Four.

On the cusp of history, the Zags took it head on with a superb all-around game to give coach Mark Few the one missing piece of his resume.

Gonzaga found the range from the perimeter after struggling the first three NCAA games, making 12 of 24 from 3-point range. The defense, a soft spot in the past, shut down the underdog and 11th-seeded Musketeers (24-14) to win the West Region.

The Zags will face the winner between South Carolina and Florida in next week's Final Four in Arizona.

J.P Macura led the Musketeers with 18 points.

The Musketeers brought their turn-the-page jar of ashes to the NCAA Tournament, where they burned through a string of upsets to reach their third Elite Eight and first since 2008. They beat Maryland, Florida State and took down No. 2 Arizona in the regional semifinals, setting up a matchup of small Jesuit schools seeking their first Final Four.

The Final Four was the only thing missing on Few's resume, which includes 18 straight NCAA Tournaments, eight trips to the Sweet 16 and a third Elite Eight after surviving West Virginia's constant pressure in the regional semifinals.

The Zags struggled to find an offensive rhythm against the Mountaineers - who doesn't? - but had it flowing against Xavier.

Gonzaga came into the Elite Eight hitting 29 percent of its 3-point shots after making 37 percent during the season. The Zags found the range early against Xavier, hitting 8 of 13 from the arc in the first half, mostly against the Musketeers' zone or on kick-outs from center Przemek Karnowski.

Xavier got off to a good start offensively by working the ball around, but hit a dry spell and made 1 of 5 from 3-point range as Gonzaga stretched to lead to 49-39 by halftime.

Halftime did little to slow the Zags, who pushed the lead to 59-42 on 3-pointers by Williams-Goss and Jordan Mathews. Gonzaga kept the machine rolling in the second half, continuing to make shots while its defense prevented the Musketeers from making any kind of run.

Blakely: Despite their spot in East, consistency remains a problem for Celtics

Blakely: Despite their spot in East, consistency remains a problem for Celtics

BOSTON –  Devin Booker went on a scoring binge for the ages against the Boston Celtics on Friday night, the likes of which won’t be seen anytime soon at the TD Garden.

The performance was so great, even the most die-hard Green Teamers had to give the 20-year-old props for dropping 70 points – 70 points! – on the Celtics who still wound up winning, 130-120.

And as Booker continued to pour on the points and the Celtics’ double-digit lead remained just that, a double-digit lead, the narrative of what we witnessed was a lot deeper than just some young kid getting hot.

The Suns are trying lose as many games as they can, while throwing youngsters out there like Booker to play major minutes and predictably make their share of mistakes with the goal being to learn from those miscues and get better.

But the true lesson in what went down Friday night had little to do with Booker’s big night or some Celtics being a little salty about it afterwards.

Lost in all of the hoopla surrounding Booker’s big night was the repeated revelation by Celtics head coach Brad Stevens after the game about his team’s play and their record not being on one accord.

“That’s why, like I’ve said before, I’m surprised at where we are record-wise because we’ve got to play at a higher level for 48 minutes,” Stevens said. “We just don’t do it.”

And Booker’s historic night is the latest example to illustrate Stevens’ point.

Not having Avery Bradley (sickness) was a factor, obviously.

But that’s no excuse for the way they allowed Booker to do anything and everything he wanted to on the floor, allowing a really good shooter to gain confidence to the point where there was literally nothing the Celtics could do to cool him off.

The Celtics looked casual for three-plus quarters defensively against the Suns and still managed to win which says more about Phoenix and its desire to lose as much as possible, than Boston’s ability to find success and overcome a player with a hot hand.

It was another case of Boston getting away from what works while settling into what felt good and easy.

Most of the guys Phoenix played on Friday weren’t players you would consider big-time scoring threats, so the Celtics defensively didn’t play with a defensive edge other than the first six minutes of the game.

In that span, Phoenix didn’t make a single shot from the field while Boston bolted out to a 16-3 lead.

From there, the Celtics didn’t play with the same sense of urgency.

Fortunately for them, they were playing a team that didn’t want to win.

That’s not going to be the case in these remaining games, a mixture of playoff-bound clubs, wannabe playoff-bound crews and a few others with rosters full of players fighting to stay in the league who will use these remaining games essentially as an audition for next season.

If Boston plays like this in any of their remaining games, they’ll most likely lose.

And that’s why Brad Stevens continues to harp on this team not being as good as their record.

Because when you’re in the same class record-wise with teams like Golden State, San Antonio, Cleveland and Houston, there’s a certain expectation of consistency you should play with most nights.

The Warriors and Rockets have explosive scorers; the Spurs play elite-level defense most nights and the Cavs have LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

Those factors form the basis of their consistency in terms of winning and overall play.

But the Celtics are very much a wild and unpredictable bunch, able to knock off Cleveland and Golden State, but get blasted by Denver and lose to Philadelphia.

If inconsistent play is a hallmark of this team, their potential for having a great season will be remembered as just that, potential.

Because games like the one they played on Friday against Phoenix on more nights than not, will result in a loss which could put the Celtics very much in the crosshairs for an early playoff exit.